About Birches Cottages
In a quiet corner of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Park, with the cascading Umzimkulu river bounding one side and blue mountain sky the other, lie Birches and Willows Cottages.
Designed to satisfy the needs of the most discerning traveller, Birches and Willows are luxuriously appointed and serviced daily to international standards. Set in a private garden on the six-hectare Brittlewood riverfront estate, the Birches and Willows combine luxurious country living with a host of outdoor adventures, self-drive activities and cultural pursuits.
The most memorable aspect of your visit will be the superlative service, attention to detail and the sincere interest of the Birches and Willows team in your personal comfort. It is this approach to hospitality that sees guests return to the Birches and Willows time and again. To quote Alan and Diane of Johannesburg: "Keep it up! This is how we should run B&B’s and accommodation venues. We will become a world-class tourist destination if all could follow your lead! Well done."
Perfectly suited for the longer term visitor, Birches Cottage is a luxury suite, offering accommodation for two adults with an extra-length king size bed. The cottage consists of a kitchenette, lounge and dining area, a spacious bedroom and a bathroom with a separate bath and shower and his/hers basins. A cosy gas fire and electric blankets are provided to counter the chilly Underberg winter nights. The beds are dressed in percale linen and the embroidered duvets are filled with duck down. Floors are covered in sumptuous thick-pile carpets while the cottage walls are adorned with collector’s hand-coloured photographs and original paintings.
Willows Cottage is a luxury bedsit suited to the shorter term and overnight traveller. Accommodating two persons on a king size bed or adjoining single beds, its luxurious appointment includes a bar fridge, microwave and beverage preparation area. The beds are dressed in sheer percale linen, duck down duvets and electric blankets. The bathroom has a separate bath and shower and a luxury vanity. The walls are hung with black and white photographs of the Underberg region.
Breakfast and Dining
Guests enjoy their breakfast and experience refined hospitality in the Continental setting of our very own Lemon Tree Bistro, which was voted a finalist in the 2011 Sunday Tribune Café Society Awards. Breakfasts are also served in the estate’s gardens on request.
Activities and Attractions
As no more than four guests visit the six-hectare estate at one time, you are guaranteed privacy and ample opportunity to enjoy its attractions. There are twelve decks and view points connected by two kilometres of meandering footpaths overlooking the spectacular Umzimkulu Gorge. Secluded alcoves allow you to withdraw, perhaps meditate for a while.
The little Patience Plunge Pool is washed with river water and tucked in a grove of birches half way to the river. While romance is bound to enhance the sunsets from Moonrise Deck, champagne with cheese and biscuits on Barbecue Deck as you watch otters frolic in the river below will be an unforgettable experience. The cottage is free standing and set in a garden with a private barbecue. A French boulle patch and herb garden are set nearby for your use and numerous water features articulate the ebb and flow of life.
While the cottage and garden provide sumptuous comfort, consummate enjoyment is realised only through all-round engagement. Come to Brittlewood riverfront estate not only to admire the breathtaking view but pause to celebrate significant moments. Experience four palpable seasons, misty nights and the endless blue sky. Come swim in the river and ramble the hills. Search for autumn mushrooms and the first wild asparagus of spring. Reflect on the wildflowers and the dew-spangled grass. Be early to bed and catch the giant kingfisher diving at dawn. Rediscover the elusive essence of life. Rediscover yourself.
There are a host of outdoor facilities available in Underberg and its surround. If a visit to the highest pub in Africa (situated in Lesotho, at the top of the famous Sani pass) is on your schedule, you will require a valid passport. Besides a visit to the highest pub in Africa, local tour operators offer day excursions to San painting sites, horse trails, biking, quad bike excursions, 4X4 excursions, hiking, bird-watching, trout fishing, white water rafting, tubing, rock climbing, absailing, golf and lots more.
Underberg has a Spar and an OK Grocer, a doctor and a chemist which opens normal business hours, several liquor outlets, gift/curio, outdoor and leisure shops. There are three excellent golf courses, an active trout angling association, tennis and bowling club, country club, several social clubs and associations and access to beautiful swimming pools and sports facilities at local hotels is available at nominal cost.
There is a very interesting Museum in Himeville depicting the history of the region. There are several short to longer duration self-drive excursions to rural Zululand, indigenous forests, scenic routes to ancient Trappist mission stations and churches. The nearby Midlands Meander Art & Crafts Route and the beautiful Hibiscus Coast of southern KwaZulu Natal is less than two hours' drive away. There are several restaurants offering a variety of fare from bistro breakfast to five star dining.
Generally, Underberg days are fine and summer temperatures range between five and early thirty degrees Celsius. Winter temperatures are severe and often reach well below zero Celsius. It is always advisable to bring warm clothes, a hat and a raincoat as the Underberg weather changes rapidly and several "seasons" can be experienced in a single day. A good sunscreen for your skin should be brought and applied during most months, as the UV-B factor can be dangerous.